A typical morning for the Bolte family -- if such a thing exists -- begins bright and early.

Brent, the head football coach at Bemidji State, arrives at the office at 6:15. His wife Kim, a first-grade teacher, follows, sipping on morning coffee while preparing for the day.

Caden and Beth, senior and junior student-athletes at Bemidji High School, come last, arising before school and getting themselves there.

From there, the day’s events -- marked out on Kim’s color-coded Google calendar -- ensue. And there are many of them. Rare is the evening where all four of the Boltes are together for dinner.

“It's pretty wild,” Brent said.

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It’s a busy routine, one that requires sacrifice and willpower to achieve. But it’s one that has led to pioneering success in the Bemidji sporting community.

Under Brent’s direction, the football team clinched its first NCAA Tournament berth in 95 years of existence. Caden helped lead the third-seeded Lumberjacks football team to an upset win over Sauk Rapids-Rice and nearly a section championship over Alexandria.

Beth, a key cog in the BHS volleyball team, helped anchor Bemidji’s defense and attack in the Jacks’ surprising win over Sartell-St. Stephen in the section quarterfinals.

And they may just be getting started. Both play basketball in the winter, then baseball and softball in the spring.

“It's usually pretty much go, go, go,” Beth said. “It's been like that for a long time too, ever since fourth and fifth grade pretty much.”

Spending a life together

Bemidji senior Caden Bolte (24) catches an interception in the second half against Alexandria in the Section 8-5A championship on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji senior Caden Bolte (24) catches an interception in the second half against Alexandria in the Section 8-5A championship on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

The Boltes have been a Bemidji staple since Brent started on the BSU staff as the wide receivers coach in 2000, bringing Kim, his high school sweetheart, along for the ride. Some years later, Caden and Beth were born.

Brent and Kim both hail from the small town of Tripoli, Iowa. In a prescient twist, they played -- together as children -- the famous board game “The Game of Life.”

“My sister and his brother were in the same grade,” Kim said. “They're older than us. And my sister would have these junior high parties at my house, and Brent's parents would help my parents chaperone.

“And they would have to bring Brent along. He was the youngest of his family. And so Brent and I were forced to have to play together. So that's technically how we probably met.”

Bemidji State head coach Brent Bolte talks to the Beavers after practice on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji State head coach Brent Bolte talks to the Beavers after practice on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Brent worked his way up to linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator before eventually taking the helm of the program in 2016. All the while, his coaching wasn’t necessarily restricted to the field or the football meeting rooms.

“At home, he's -- I don't want to say less of a dad -- but he's more of a coach or like a head figure in my life,” Caden said. “I don't know how to explain it, but he pushes me more than I feel like any other dad would. He pushes me to become better, and he does the same with my sister.

“He takes his tools that he uses for coaching and he applies them to being a dad. And I think it's really, really good. ... I wouldn't want it any other way.”

The bustle of sports schedules

Bemidji junior Beth Bolte (11) celebrates after getting a kill in the second set against Grand Rapids on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at Bemidji High School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji junior Beth Bolte (11) celebrates after getting a kill in the second set against Grand Rapids on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at Bemidji High School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Coaching a college football team is a nonstop proposition for Brent. Caden and Beth each play three sports at BHS to go along with their course loads. Kim teaches and is a prolific volunteer with both her children’s teams and Bemidji youth sports.

It’s not for the faint of heart. Caden describes it as “a different environment than most people get to experience growing up.” Moments of respite can be fleeting.

Beth still has another year and a half at BHS. But in a few months, Caden will have to decide whether he wishes to continue living life the Bolte way -- he has a scholarship offer to play football at BSU -- or chart his own path at North Dakota, where he has been offered a preferred walk-on spot.

Despite Brent frequently bringing his coaching home, one area he has compartmentalized it for is Caden’s recruitment.

“My dad actually tried to stay out of it as much as he could,” Caden said. “So for me, it felt like I was going through a process with a whole different school. My dad would talk to me as a parent about both schools and not try to be on BSU's side.

“He would try to make his other coaches, his actual recruiting guys, do it.”

Bemidji senior Caden Bolte (24) gets a big hit on Alexandria's Kristen Hoskins after Hoskins' first-quarter catch on Sept. 10, 2021, in Alexandria. (Eric Morken / Forum News Service)
Bemidji senior Caden Bolte (24) gets a big hit on Alexandria's Kristen Hoskins after Hoskins' first-quarter catch on Sept. 10, 2021, in Alexandria. (Eric Morken / Forum News Service)

This has made Caden’s decision difficult, as he weighs forging ahead on his own or playing for a familiar face.

One decision that was easier for the Bolte family? Putting down roots in Bemidji. Despite most of their extended family remaining in Iowa, Brent and Kim opted to raise a family in northern Minnesota. They appreciated how former Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch emphasized maintaining family ties despite the business of football season.

“It's a family environment,” Brent said. “When my kids were small, I had the opportunity to take my kids on road trips and do all the things that coach Tesch allowed us to do. … A lot of places aren't like that.

“If you move up levels, and you start doing different things, your life is football 24/7. You see a lot of people, unfortunately, family sometimes (goes) to the back burner, and you see some family issues and stuff like that, but not here.”

For Kim, whom Brent termed a “rock star,” the supportive environment offered by the program at large made a big difference as she raised two young kids, sometimes on her own.

“That's the one thing that I probably loved the most about how coach Tesch ran that whole philosophy,” Kim said. “Because we as wives and children, we were always invited to eat meals with our husbands and players during preseason, during two-a-days, when we absolutely did not see our husbands from like 5 o’clock in the morning until 10 o’clock at night.

“... And I think when you create that program with that family-first philosophy, then you get that longevity and you get those coaches that make it their commitment.”

Leaving a legacy

Bemidji catcher Beth Bolte holds the ball aloft during a Section 8-3A Tournament game against Alexandria on Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Alexandria. (Jared Rubado / Forum News Service)
Bemidji catcher Beth Bolte holds the ball aloft during a Section 8-3A Tournament game against Alexandria on Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Alexandria. (Jared Rubado / Forum News Service)

Brent has already established a legacy as the first coach to lead the Beavers to the NCAA Tournament. But the more lasting legacy he and Kim hope to leave in Bemidji manifests in their children.

The parents make every available effort to attend as many of the kids’ sporting events as possible, even driving to the Twin Cities on many occasions. It’s a reciprocated effort, as Beth and Caden are often visible at BSU football games.

At the high school level, both kids want to leave their own legacies at BHS before their time is up.

“I just want to have an impact on Bemidji High School right now that will be remembered somehow,” Caden said. “To get a number on the banners for a section title, that's something I really want, and leaving that as my legacy would be something I've been striving for.”

Beth, as a junior, has some time left to decide what her legacy will be. For now, she’s focused on helping continue to build the Lumberjacks’ athletic programs, using her first-hand knowledge to be a leader in pushing her teams to new levels of achievement.

“To keep growing the programs (is my goal),” she said. “Because we have a lot of younger girls that (are) going to be the leaders of the next couple of years. So I would say just to get them prepared for what it's going to be like.”

Bemidji junior Caden Bolte (22) drives to the hoop during a January 2021 game against St. Cloud Apollo on Thursday at the BHS Gymnasium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji junior Caden Bolte (22) drives to the hoop during a January 2021 game against St. Cloud Apollo on Thursday at the BHS Gymnasium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Brent and Kim are proud of their kids -- but much like coaches do, they maintain perspective on the matter as well.

“Trust me, my kids aren't perfect either,” Brent said. “They need to be cracked upside the head at times, too. But you're always proud of your kids. And I am extraordinarily proud of both of them.

“They both played (varsity) when they were younger. … Both of them took the challenge and ran with it when they had the opportunities, which is really what life's about. … Being good teammates, being captains, those are all things that I'm extremely proud of those two for.”

Kim, despite everything she has put in to raise her children, credits others for being a big part of the foundation of their life.

“They wouldn't be where they are without that foundation from their teachers and their youth coaches and their middle school coaches,” Kim said. “And that's what helps get them to be where they are. To me, those programs and those people, they're what makes the legacy.”